Poem – What We Notice (By Gil Hoy)
What We Notice – By Gil Hoy
I first lived like a tadpole swimming up-current in a raging river
Not noticing that I’d been crowned heavyweight champion of the
world, the impossible odds overcome, or the miraculous union with my
waiting cell that might otherwise have been washed away and lost.
The lesson is that you have already overcome impossible odds.
I next existed in a big glowing belly
Not feeling much of anything, except a growing thumb for
comfort, kicking feet, and a flesh tube carrying essential supplies
and services, never imagining the awakening and magical state
change that lay outside mother’s womb.
The lesson is to expect the unimaginable—even when things seem
boring and dull.
I next crawled on tiny hands and scuffed-up knees
Not seeing the glowing embers in the brick fireplace, the shoveled
driveway or the monthly ritual of writing checks for the too many
bills for our bank account to deal with at the dining room table.
The lesson is to recognize and appreciate the sacrifices made by others.
I next stumbled along on wobbly chunky columns
Not cleaning up the sticky mess that I had made on the floor,
while king in my high chair, feasting on a high-powered
meal of smashed green beans and sweet applesauce.
The lesson is to clean up your messes before they rot.
I next walked down a flower-covered church aisle
Not praying for the success of the profound commitment that I had
made to another or seeing the children who would follow, how they
would change me, and make me grow despite myself.
The lesson is to think about what really matters to you and the feelings
of other human beings. Appreciate how they see the world and recognize
their strengths, weaknesses and fears.
I now board the trolley with the herd to go to work
Not wanting to know about the disheartened souls in the long
unemployment line, their needs and wants–some having given up,
a few scarce bucks for the kids, their faces taught and worried brows.
The lesson is that what you think is tedious is often a profound gift,
and the stranger standing next to you is someone from whom you
can learn a lot if you will only listen.
I now hurry to my kids’ school events
Not noticing the unkind word or critical gesture that might
forever change the way they see the world, and the enduring
ripple effects that such a careless act might have.
The lesson is to recognize how a supportive word will lift a child to the
heights of Olympus, and how an unkind word may shake a growing
child’s confidence to the core.
I now cruise around town in my fancy car
Not noticing the rusting auto on the side of the road, the worn
treads or the young pregnant mother cuddling her crying child
while they anxiously wait for a long overdue uncaring tow truck.
The lesson is to help those who are less fortunate than you at every
I now fly in my smokin’ jet plane
Not noticing the starving children in the poor warring nation right
below us, after trashing my leftover too-much-food lunch, their
bloated stomachs, frozen terrified faces and protruding rib cages.
The lesson is to waste nothing, and that every human being deserves
certain basic rights and essentials, called “natural wealth” by Aristotle.
And one day I will lie in my casket —six feet under
Not noticing perhaps much of anything.
The lesson will be to remember coming out of the womb—-for who
ever could have imagined the majesty that awaited you? Is death so?